Bicycle Commuter Profile: Guilherme Caldas

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Guilherme Caldas
Location: Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Started bike commuting: Early 2001
Commute distance (one way): 3 km (varies a lot)

Describe your commute: I mostly use my bike to go to work and to every business compromises I must take care of. I also do groceries and attend social meetings by bike.

Describe your bike and accessories: The bike shown in picture is a cargo model, with a plastic box, elastic and velcro bands. When riding at night, I also use front and rear lights. I actually have two more bikes, a Monark 10 Positron and a Custom Chopper.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Lots of things can be done by bycicle. Don’t let your (and other people’s) fears keeping you from have a much more enjoyable life. Ride safely (helmet, glove and lights are a good start), knowing your local traffic laws, specially the ones concerning to bicycles.

If you don’t forget to make periodical check ups on your bike you’ll soon find out that she can be your best friend.

7 Responses to “Bicycle Commuter Profile: Guilherme Caldas”

  • voyage says:

    Hey, Guilherme,

    Your pictured bike makes me think of Civia’s Halsted and the ancient Royal Enfield. Looks like a good, solid workaday bike. Nice.

  • Andrew J. Smith says:

    Excellent advice. Couldn’t said it better myself.

    aj

  • Daniel M says:

    Guilherme,

    I first heard of Curitiba about ten years ago in a City Planning / Urban transportation course I was taking at UC Berkeley. Curitiba was depicted to us as the anti-Brasilia (depicted then as completely auto-centric); a city which had more or less invented Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) as an alternative to more costly light-rail and had achieved an astounding 90-second interval between buses, as well as concentrating its densest commercial and residential development near these BRT lines. My question to you is: how accurate was this portrayal? Is the public transit there really that great and if so, what advantage does the bicycle afford in addition to or instead of using it? Finally, are bikes allowed on the public transit?

    Any insight is appreciated; the real world is often not as simple as portrayed in college classes!

    Daniel

  • Guilherme says:

    Hi Voyage,

    That Cargo Bike is a traditional work bike in Brazil. It’s very solid (and heavy) and is mostly used to carry water bottles of 20 litres each, many at a time, or to do groceries deliveries.
    The models you said are beautiful, and are really similar to mine, specially the Halsted.

  • Guilherme says:

    Thanks, Andrew!

  • Guilherme says:

    Daniel,

    Curitiba was indeed a laboratory for advanced urbanistics ideas in early 70s. It had the first, or at least one of the firsts BRT systems in the world, that was part of an innovative urbanistic program, which included sectorization of public transport, closing of some parts of the city to vehicles and even some of the first Brazilian cycling lanes. Also, BRT lines were planned to follow axes of commercial and business sectors decentralization.

    Unfortunately, in the last 20 years this urbanistic advanced thinking was abandoned, and what we have seen since then are initiatives that prioritize motorized transport, mainly the car. What we have seen are palliative measures to make streets larger and to make two-way streets into one-way streets, having as main objective the optimization of car traffic. This, plus the stagnation and lack of planning of public transportation system (that lost pace with population growth), is worsening Curitiba’s traffic each year.

    Perhaps, compared to other major cities in Brazil and Latin America, Curitiba still has a transit that may be considered reasonable, but the impression one gets is that Curitiba has lost its historical moment and is becoming another non-viable city.

    A side effect of this lack of planning of the public transportation system is that the use of bicycles for travel within the city became a viable alternative. It helps avoiding the problem of bus fare, a serious one in a poor country like Brazil, and the travel time by bike is equivalent, in many cases, to the travel time by public bus. About the integration of bikes with public transport, unfortunately this is still something left to a remote future in Curitiba (hope I’m wrong).

    About bicycles in traffic, in Brazil, the traffic law is federal and provides, since 1997, bicycles as a mode of transport, considering it a vehicle that must use the streets and roads when there is no bike paths or lanes, or when they can not be used. This, however, didn’t immediately translate into an acceptance of bikes on the streets by car drivers.

    A few years ago, however, the situation was more complicated. There were fewer cars on the streets, but there were far fewer bikes. Now, we have much more cars on the streets, but at the same time, much more bikes and, more importantly, we begin to perceive an acceptance of the idea that the street is a public space, built and mantained with tax money, and that everyone has the right to use it.

    Well, that was a long answer, maybe too long. But as you said, the real world is not always as simple as shown in classrooms.

    Please, forgive my bad english and feel free to write if you have any further question.

  • BICYCLE COMMUTER PROFILE: GUILHERME CALDAS « bicicletada curitiba says:

    […] o “nosso” Guilherme Caldas tendo seu perfil ciclístico publicado no saite Ecovelo. Ficou muito bacana. Caso alguém queira publicar o seu perfil aqui, pode encaminhar para o e-mail […]

 
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